The most precise answer to ‘Who am I?”

The question “Who am I?” is undoubtedly the most important question to ask in life. But this is a question which is not to be answered but to be realized. Asking this question to ourselves using our intellect does not yield an answer but it leads us to self-realization. So it is helpful to ponder upon its answers, especially upon those which are given by self-realized masters.

raja_ravi_varma_-_sankaracharya

One of the most intriguing answer to this question was given by Ādi Śaṅkara in the eighth century. One day Ādi Śaṅkara was wandering near River Narmada in an attempt to find his spiritual master or “Guru” at the age of eight. On his way, he encountered a seer called Govindapada who asked him, “Who are you?” Ādi Śaṅkara then answered this question eloquently and the seer immediately accepted him as his disciple. He gave answer in the form of a song which is commonly known as Atma Shatkam or Nirvana Shatkam. In his answer, he mostly tells “who I am not” rather than “who I am”. If we ponder upon these verses constantly, we will slowly realize our true nature in the due course of time. Below is his exact answer; its YouTube video can be found here.

मनोबुद्धयहंकार चित्तानि नाहं न च श्रोत्रजिव्हे न च घ्राणनेत्रे ।

न च व्योम भूमिर्न तेजो न वायुः चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 1 ।।

न च प्राणसंज्ञो न वै पंचवायुः, न वा सप्तधातुः न वा पञ्चकोशः ।

न वाक्पाणिपादौ न चोपस्थपायु, चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 2 ।।

न मे द्वेषरागौ न मे लोभमोहौ, मदो नैव मे नैव मात्सर्यभावः ।

न धर्मो न चार्थो न कामो न मोक्षः, चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 3 ।।

न पुण्यं न पापं न सौख्यं न दुःखं, न मन्त्रो न तीर्थो न वेदा न यज्ञ ।

अहं भोजनं नैव भोज्यं न भोक्ता, चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 4 ।।

न मे मृत्युशंका न मे जातिभेदः, पिता नैव मे नैव माता न जन्मः ।

न बन्धुर्न मित्रं गुरूर्नैव शिष्यः, चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 5 ।।

अहं निर्विकल्पो निराकार रूपो, विभुत्वाच सर्वत्र सर्वेन्द्रियाणाम् ।

न चासङत नैव मुक्तिर्न मेयः, चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 6 ।।

Below is its English translation.

1. I am not mind, nor intellect, nor ego, nor the reflections of inner self (chitta). I am not the five senses. I am beyond that. I am not the ether, nor the earth, nor the fire, nor the wind (the five elements). I am indeed Shivoham, that eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious, love and pure consciousness.

2. Neither can I be termed as energy (prāṇa), nor five types of breath (vāyus), nor the seven material essences, nor the five sheaths (pañca-kośa). Neither am I the organ of Speech, nor the organs for Holding (Hand), Movement (Feet) or Excretion. I am indeed Shivoham, that eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious, love and pure consciousness.

3. I have no hatred or dislike, nor affiliation or liking, nor greed, nor delusion, nor pride or haughtiness, nor feelings of envy or jealousy. I have no duty (dharma), nor any money, nor any desire (kāma), nor even liberation (mokṣa). I am indeed Shivoham, that eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious, love and pure consciousness.

4. I have neither merit (virtue), nor demerit (sin). I do not commit sins or good deeds, nor have happiness or sorrow, pain or pleasure. I do not need mantras, holy places, scriptures (Vedas), rituals or sacrifices (yajñas). I am none of the triad of the observer or one who experiences, the process of observing or experiencing, or any object being observed or experienced. I am indeed Shivoham, that eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious, love and pure consciousness.

5. I do not have fear of death, as I do not have death. I have no separation from my true self, no doubt about my existence, nor have I discrimination on the basis of birth. I have no father or mother, nor did I have a birth. I am not the relative, nor the friend, nor the guru, nor the disciple. I am indeed Shivoham, that eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious, love and pure consciousness.

6. I am all pervasive. I am without any attributes, and without any form. I have neither attachment to the world, nor to liberation (mukti). I have no wishes for anything because I am everything, everywhere, every time, always in equilibrium. I am indeed Shivoham, that eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious, love and pure consciousness.

 

 

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